Maya Angelou: The Lessons & The Legacy

by Starla J. King on May 28, 2014

“In all my work what I try to say is that as human beings we are more alike than we are unalike.” ~ Maya Angelou

maya_angelouMy heart cracked when I saw the news this morning of Dr. Maya Angelou’s death.  [photo credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times]

It had never occurred to me that someone with such a huge presence could actually die, could slip out of that human body and leave us stunned at her absence.

Thank God she wrote herself down.  That we can still read her, learn from her, carry her forward in the sharing of her words, and the living of our lives. 

Today, as we remember and honor Maya, I offer a few of her quotes and the lessons I take from them.  [I’ve added her name to each quote for easy sharing.]

1. Tell your story. 

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” ~ Maya Angelou .

2. Create. 

“Poetry puts starch in your backbone so you can stand, so you can compose your life.” ~ Maya Angelou .

3. Find peace.

“On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.” ~ Maya Angelou

4. Connect. 

“Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.” ~ Maya Angelou

5. Read.

“The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library.” ~ Maya Angelou .

6. Take care with your words.

“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.” ~ Maya Angelou

7. Live fully.

“Live as though life was created for you.” ~ Maya Angelou .

8. Love equally.

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” ~ Maya Angelou

9. Write intentionally.

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” ~ Maya Angelou

10. Write regularly.

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’…. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” ~ Maya Angelou

“I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.” ~ Maya Angelou .

12. Write bravely.

“Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.” ~ Maya Angelou

13. Dream.

“I dreamt we walked together along the shore. We made satisfying small talk and laughed. This morning I found sand in my shoe and a seashell in my pocket. Was I only dreaming?” ~ Maya Angelou

May we all find sand in our shoe and a seashell in our pocket as proof that Maya was there… and always will be as we remember, appreciate, and emulate her life.

Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, for everything.  .

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